Big 12 M5: 02.06.14 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on February 6th, 2014

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  1. Last night was the zillionth reason why winning a road game in the Big 12 is a you-know-what. Oklahoma arrived at WVU Coliseum to face West Virginia about 90 minutes before tip-off due to winter weather and still managed to stay in the game. The Mountaineers held the lead for much of the game but a three-point play from Ryan Spangler gave the Sooners a one-point advantage with 1:38 left. That’s when Eron Harris started making all the three-pointers: one that sent the game to overtime with 20.2 seconds left, and two more to put the game away for good. The Mountaineers now have wins against Baylor (losing luster), Kansas State and the Sooners in their last three games. But as we all know, the NCAA Tournament won’t be played at your home arena. A win at Kansas on Saturday would really send a message.
  2. Kansas center Joel Embiid said after its win at Baylor that he is “strongly considering” returning to campus for his sophomore season. The obvious part about this story is how much of this is a non-story. This is as pointless as reporters asking players whether they’re leaving for the NBA mere minutes after their season just ended. But I totally get why ESPN’s Jeff Goodman asked Embiid about his future: He’s gotta write about something, and Lord knows nobody else is asking the question to likely draft picks in early February. Goodman has already cornered the market for the answer from the potential top pick in this June’s draft. Game recognize game, Jeffrey.
  3. Marcus Smart was considered a consensus lottery pick in the 2013 NBA Draft but elected to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season. In addition to a possible injury as a downside to coming back to school, Smart’s game is being scouted, analyzed and criticized more than ever before. NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster brings forth several compelling points about Smart’s poor decision-making at times and how a lack of awareness when it comes to his own strengths and weaknesses can hurt his team’s prospects this season. Beyond that, it could also hurt how NBA teams evaluate him when they’re deciding whether to make him their point guard of the future.
  4. CBSSports.com sat down with Texas head coach Rick Barnes this week and discussed his team’s surprising season, the new athletic director and some other things. One topic of conversation was center Cameron Ridley, who would get my vote for Big 12 Most Improved Player of the Year, if such an award existed. He was a player who was a project in every sense of the word and didn’t really have a set of skills when he stepped onto campus for the first time. Ridley was always an intimidating defender, but now he’s a better finisher around the rim and has vastly improved his conditioning (he has already played more minutes at this point in the season than all of 2012-13). Buzz Williams who?
  5. Former Baylor guard Pierre Jackson was drafted in the second round of last year’s NBA Draft but was subsequently cut from the New Orleans Pelicans in training camp. So now Jackson is venting all of his frustration of being cut on to the entire D-League. On Tuesday night, the Idaho Stampede guard dropped a ridiculous 58 points on 33 shots, grabbed six rebounds and dished out eight assists in a win over the Texas Legends. Jackson is also leading the D-League in points per game (30.2) so far. It’s only a matter time before an NBA team is wise enough to bring him up to the big time.
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The RTC Podcast: Wiggins vs. Randle vs. Parker Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2013

We’re now 10 days into the regular season and fully focused on college basketball. Not previewing college basketball or anticipating college basketball or even faking college basketball. Actual college basketball. So as we approach the start of Feast Week in a few days, the RTC Podcast is back this week to start to dig into some of the early impressions of the young season. Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114), is your gracious host, and he leads the guys through a 50-minute smorgasbord of hoops discussion ranging from “The Randy Bowl” between Michigan and Iowa State, the Wiggins vs. Randle vs. Parker debate from our Rush the Takes guest, ESPN insider Jeff Goodman, and a closer look at the disappointment of North Carolina, the dominance of Louisville, and the shakiness of Syracuse. Have a listen.

Jeff Goodman Joins Us on This Week's Rush the Takes to Talk Super Freshmen .(Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

Jeff Goodman Joins Us on This Week’s Rush the Takes to Talk Super Freshmen .(Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

The rundown is below if you’d like to skip around to the most interesting parts. Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

  • 0:00-8:42 – Iowa State Wins “The Randy Bowl”
  • 8:42-14:26 – Ohio State Knocks Out Marquette in Ugly Slugfest
  • 14:26-25:32 – Rush the Take With Jeff Goodman
  • 25:32-31:32 – Recruiting Reactions
  • 31:32-37:50 – ACC, UNC Disappointing Early
  • 37:50-40:02 – Louisville at #1
  • 40:02-41:30 – Syracuse Looking Shaky
  • 41:30-45:11 – Oklahoma State vs. Memphis Preview
  • 45:11-46:42 – Other Games to Watch/Wrap
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After Just One Game, the Andrew Wiggins Backlash Has Begun

Posted by Taylor Erickson on November 12th, 2013

The power of the Internet can be a wonderful thing, providing someone with virtually unlimited information at the click of a button. But let’s be honest, it can also be quite an inconvenience at times, too (like when your Facebook picture from a party in college may have kept you from that job you really wanted). With the technology we have today, the web serves as an open book of history for anything that’s been said or written if the one speaking or writing is significant enough to have his or her voice published.

So you’re probably sitting here thinking “OK, I get it, but I came to read about college basketball, so please carry on.”

Is there a limit to how many jaw-droppers Andrew Wiggins will give us this season?

Is Andrew Wiggins Still the Best Player in His Class?

Fair enough, as I’d probably be thinking the same thing, so here’s where I’m going with this. In the last month or so, there seems to be a momentum shift in how some media in college basketball are viewing Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins. As I’m sure you’ve heard over, and over, and over again, Wiggins was built up over the better part of the last year as a guy who could be one of the better recruits we’ve seen in the last 10-plus years in college basketball. His name was thrown out there with the likes of Michael Beasley, and Kevin Durant, and even, gulp, LeBron James. Somewhere along the line, someone called him “the best recruit since LeBron” and boy did that sound bite take off like wildfire. Whether those comparisons are accurate is something we can’t all come to an agreement on, but we can all agree that when Wiggins reclassified his graduation year last October, there was no doubt that he was considered the top prep prospect in the nation. Many cited his performance in the Peach Jam in July 2012 as evidence, where Wiggins went head-to-head with fellow top Kentucky recruit Julius Randle in what is the considered the highest profile AAU event in the country. The unanimous belief after the Peach Jam was that Wiggins was the superior talent to Randle, leading to quotes like this one from former CBS writer and current ESPN staffer, Jeff Goodman.

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AAC M5: 10.22.13 Edition

Posted by Mike Lemaire on October 22nd, 2013

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  1. It’s possible that only in Kentucky can you find more than 1,400 people to attend a college basketball event in the middle of a Monday afternoon. I guess it also helps if you are the defending national champions and you have a legitimate shot at making your third-straight Final Four appearance next April. Louisville held its tip-off luncheon yesterday at the downtown Marriott, and in addition to some good ole-fashioned roasting from coach Rick Pitino and his two senior captains Russ Smith and Luke Hancock, the Cardinals’ head coach even allowed himself to say that the program was on its way to becoming “a mini-dynasty.” The unexpected loss of forward Chane Behanan has put a damper on Louisville’s lofty preseason rankings, but Pitino — who has dealt with the loss of key players before — is saying all the right things and has really been pumping up sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell pretty hard. Hopefully Harrell is up to challenge.
  2. Speaking of the Cardinals, news that guard Kevin Ware may be healthy enough to suit up in the team’s season opener is a bright spot for fans still reeling from Behanan’s suspension. Apparently Ware refuses to watch the video of his injury, and who can blame him, those watching the game live can probably still remember the visceral reaction of the nearby Cardinals and the awful televised replays. Ware has been practicing with the team, but he is still being held out of full-contact drills while the bone continues to heal. Right now, his timetable will likely force him to miss a game or two as he ramps up the contact starting in November, but Ware holds out hope that he can push the timetable up by proving his durability in drills.
  3. Every year the good folks at CBSSports.com have the enviable job of participating in a just-for-kicks fantasy draft of college basketball players and since Jeff Goodman recently left for ESPN, this year’s draft was a three-man affair. It didn’t take long for the first player from the AAC to get taken as Louisville‘s Russ Smith was understandably popped sixth overall right behind Duke’s Jabari Parker. It was also nice win for the AAC to see Smith’s teammate Montrezl Harrell go with the 17th overall selection, but after Harrell, only one other player was chosen from the conference (Shabazz Napier with the No. 24 overall pick). All told, only three players from the AAC were selected among the 39 picks, not exactly a strong showing for the league, especially considering the Cardinals won’t be around much longer to inflate the numbers.
  4. If they were still playing in Conference USA they would probably be a favorite to win the league, so it’s good to see that Houston is excited about playing in a tougher conference. The Cougars’ players (or at least Danuel Housesound excited about the opportunity to gain exposure for both themselves and the program, and also to play against tougher competition. Everyone has been talking about how SMU may sneak up on some folks this season, but Houston has the talent and depth to make some noise in their new conference as well. They will have to play much better defense and replace the scoring of the since-transferred Joseph Young, but there are enough pieces in place to finish in the top half of the league standings right now.
  5. You know it’s a slow news day for the conference when I am talking about Memphis‘ new Nike basketball uniforms that don’t really look all that different from the program’s current uniforms. I guess there are some cool designs on the fronts and backs of the jerseys, but yeah, Memphis has new uniforms, and Michael Dixon couldn’t look any happier about it.
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The Double-Edged Sword with All the Andrew Wiggins Hype

Posted by Taylor Erickson on October 10th, 2013

Everywhere I turned on Tuesday, I couldn’t help but notice it. On the internet, throughout the Twitterverse, in a story on the cover of the local USA Today at the gas station. Andrew Wiggins, next to Wilt Chamberlain and Danny Manning on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated. As if the hype wasn’t already out of hand, setting a present-day Wiggins next to a classic photo of Wilt in his Kansas days doesn’t exactly temper any of these expectations.  Instead, it magnifies them. With all the mention of Andrew Wiggins also comes exposure for Kansas. Sure Bill Self has lured top talent to Kansas before, but time after time the past few years, Self has been on the losing end of an elite talent recruiting battle to Kentucky’s John Calipari. Another top prospect, headed to Lexington instead of Lawrence. Don’t get me wrong, Self still brought in exceptional talent, just not consistently the cream of the crop.

But Andrew Wiggins was different.

SI's Wiggins/WIlt Comparisons are Fueling the Fire (credit: Sports Illustrated)

SI’s Wiggins/WIlt Comparisons are Fueling the Fire (credit: Sports Illustrated)

A year ago, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the top prospect in the last several years would head to the program churning out lottery picks at a record-setting pace. Wiggins is a fan of the famous rapper, Drake, and Drake is a fan of Wiggins. Both are fellow Canadians. Drake is also a familiar face in Kentucky basketball, so it all seemed to make sense. Except it didn’t happen that way. Wiggins broke the mold, committing to Kansas last spring in a small non-televised event.

Within the last few weeks, it was rumored that Kelly Oubre’s recruitment had come down to Kansas and Kentucky — the first real recruiting battle between Self and Calipari since the Wiggins commitment. Oubre attended KU’s Late Night in the Phog last Friday, and this Tuesday, he cancelled an upcoming visit to Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness to commit to Kansas. Another win for Self against Calipari and perhaps a small turn in momentum along the recruiting front in college basketball. In an interview with KUsports.com, Oubre talked about going to Kansas to replace Wiggins after this season. Make no mistake about it, Wiggins’ footprint at Kansas has already made an impact on the way top shelf talent views Kansas. And it doesn’t stop with Oubre.  Kansas is in the mix for the ultimate package deal in Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, and are rumored to be one of the leaders for top ten prospects Cliff Alexander and Miles Turner as well.

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Big East M5: 02.28.13 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on February 28th, 2013

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  1. Everyone remembers the last two days when I was saying that UConn was going to come to play Wednesday right? Okay so maybe I wasn’t going out on a very big limb with that prediction, but the Huskies sure made me look good last night when they took highly ranked Georgetown to double overtime before losing a game they probably should have won in agonizing fashion. Yes, Otto Porter deserves some big-time credit for his late-game heroics and his general excellence at the game of basketball, but the Huskies’ perimeter defense for most of the second half was atrocious and their offensive possessions down the stretch were not great either. UConn deserves credit for continuing to play inspired basketball without a postseason to look forward to, and Georgetown has the look of a No. 1 seed after taking a tough conference opponent’s best shot on the road and still coming out with a win. The Hoyas are hardly a finished product and if some team can figure out how to stop or even slow down Porter, John Thompson III‘s bunch will be in big trouble. But, in case you didn’t notice, Porter is pretty difficult to stop and when the backcourt duo of D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks get going, opposing teams don’t have a lot of success. It is way too early to say Georgetown has the inside shot at a No. 1 seed because an early exit in the Big East Tournament can dash those hopes quickly, but they are definitely in the conversation as of right now.
  2. Notre Dame is still clinging to hope at winning the Big East regular season crown and one of the ways to improve their chances would be to get the services of senior forward Scott Martin back sometime soon. Martin has returned to practice after battling knee issues for much of the season but the Fighting Irish still have no idea when he will return to the court or if he will be able to return at all. Coach Mike Brey gave Martin’s comeback a 50-50 shot and it seems like the best the team and Martin can hope for is that the pain won’t be a major issue and Martin can play limited minutes. Even in limited minutes, Martin’s basketball IQ, floor-spacing ability, and improved long-range shooting would be a boon for a Fighting Irish team trying to find some consistency. And on a more personal note, it would be just awful for Martin if his sixth-year of eligibility and his last shot at the NCAA Tournament were wasted because of recurring knee problems. The quotes Martin gave to Jeff Goodman are, unfortunately, rather sad, and positive thinking alone won’t resurrect Martin’s career. My guess is that Brey and the team will find a way to get Martin on the court, even for a minute, on Senior Night next Tuesday but I wouldn’t expect him to make a large impact on the rest of team’s season.
  3. Until I got a chance to read this article, I had forgotten that Miami‘s star point guard Shane Larkin was at one point supposed to be playing for DePaul and coach Oliver Purnell. Even Purnell was willing to wonder what life might have been with a budding star like Larkin running the show, but alas, the Blue Demons don’t have Larkin, who has gone on to bigger and better things, while the Blue Demons have continued to slump. The story is a good one, especially because it is penned by a Virginian-Pilot reporter who was familiar with Purnell from the coach’s time at Old Dominion. The jist is that Purnell came to Chicago with the reputation of a program fixer, something DePaul was in desperate need of, and things have not gone according to plan. Aside from Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young, the team is devoid of true Big East-caliber talent and the Blue Demons’ offense is so putrid at times that watching them play can be difficult. We have used this space before to wonder whether Purnell will get the axe at the end of this season, but I think at this point, the school is willing to let him have one more year to show some serious improvement before they kick him to the curb. Of course that extra season might have just as much to do with the fact that DePaul still owes Purnell a lot of money and they would like to try and recoup something of value from that investment. It’s hard to root against Purnell, who seems like such a nice guy, but Purnell’s coaching track record is not spotless, and unless he can turn things around out of the gate next season, the school may not even wait a full season to dump him.
  4. Hard to disagree with Cincinnati head honcho Mick Cronin‘s decision to make practice after the team’s blowout loss to Notre Dame light and fun. Nothing has been fun about the last few weeks for Cincinnati as they have watched themselves go from conference title contenders to bubble watchers in just six games and so Cronin’s decision to give the guys an “emotional break” seems like exactly what the doctor ordered for the team as they get ready to play UConn on Saturday. Of course that emotional break won’t help the Bearcats learn how to score, something they have not done a lot of in recent weeks. The game against the Huskies will be at home, and UConn is coming off their emotionally draining loss last night to Georgetown, so maybe the stars have aligned for Cincinnati to get back on track, or maybe the gritty Huskies will find a way to get up for this game as well and they will sink Cincinnati even lower. Maybe now, after their break, the team can relax, take some of the pressure off of themselves, and just play hard-nosed basketball. They better, because although they are safely in the tournament for now, the way they have played in the last six games, anything can happen before Selection Sunday.
  5. It is somewhat hard to follow Bud Poliquin‘s meandering, comma-filled article about Jim Boeheim‘s testy press conference after the team’s loss to Marquette but I think what the veteran columnist is trying to say is that people shouldn’t make a big deal of the fact that Boeheim got a bit snippy in a press conference because it happens all the time. Poliquin has a point. There are plenty of us who haven’t even been on Earth long enough to remember Boeheim’s first years at Syracuse and even we know that the legend likes to get combative and short when he doesn’t like the questions being asked. All of that said, Boeheim has been making plenty of news with his off-the-court remarks this season, and scolding a student reporter, or any reporter for that much, for asking pertinent questions about X’s and O’s and coaching decisions is a bit ridiculous. The questions that Boeheim didn’t like weren’t meant to question his coaching ability, they were questions that were being asked so they could get answers from the guy in the room with all of the coaching experience and ability. A question about why Boeheim didn’t use DaJuan Coleman against the Golden Eagles isn’t meant to criticize Boeheim’s decision-making, it is to learn more about his decision-making process. So yeah, let’s not make a big deal of the fact that Jim Boeheim got snarky in front of a microphone again, but only if Boeheim will agree to stop making innocent questions about a game such a big deal as well.
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Big East M5: 02.27.13 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on February 27th, 2013

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  1. Jim Boeheim was saying things in front of a microphone again and, after a tough road loss to Marquette in which his team led for the better part of the game, he was entertaining as always. He was cranky with reporters and didn’t seem to like a few of the questions that were tossed his way. He had good reason for his attitude, too, as Jeff Goodman points out. The Orange have been erratic as of late and they don’t look like a team that is ready to challenge for a spot in the Final Four, so Boeheim isn’t necessarily keen on fielding questions about his team’s abilities and his coaching decisions. Of course Boeheim can get cranky with reporters all he wants but if Syracuse doesn’t find some outside shooting and consistent effort for 40 minutes, it will be the team and their chances for postseason success that will start to become the issue.
  2. Goodman clearly came correct in the last two days because his other story out of the Marquette and Syracuse tilt was also an excellent one. This one focused on how Marquette is tired of hearing about how hard they play, which struck a chord, because just yesterday I mentioned how the Golden Eagles owed much of their success to how hard they play. The fact of the matter is that Marquette doesn’t have NBA talent on its roster aside from perhaps Vander Blue, and they have wildly overachieved this season in a ruggedly competitive conference without their best two players and leading scorers from last season. They don’t have the talent to be this good, so they make up for it with heady play and excellent depth at multiple positions… oh, and how hard they play. Goodman makes sure to rightly give coach Buzz Williams much of the credit for the sustained success and the way the Golden Eagles play is really just an extension of the way Williams coaches — with intensity, competitiveness, and grit.
  3. Williams isn’t the only coach who deserves a fair amount of credit for helping his team overachieve this season. Georgetown has been another conference success story this season behind star player Otto Porter and a slew of useful role players who can step up in big moments, but a primary reason for their success has been the coaching job of John Thompson III. The Hoyas didn’t win pretty early in the season, but they won often, and when second-leading scorer Greg Whittington was suspended, the team was supposed to struggle but instead has gone 11-1. The lineup tinkering has worked, young players have developed on schedule, and the Hoyas are playing some of their best basketball of the season with a big assist from the man in charge of making all those things work.
  4. I said it yesterday and I will say it again, UConn is going to come to play tonight when they get a visit from Georgetown for what will be the biggest remaining game on their season. Huskies’ coach Kevin Ollie is yet another coach helping his team overachieve and he has done a masterful job keeping his team focused and motivated. Of course the players deserve some credit for the team’s success this season as well, and if they can’t get fired up to try and upset a Top 10 team, then they shouldn’t be playing this sport. The Hoyas will not be able to afford to come out flat, because Gampel Pavilion will be rocking and if the Huskies start fast and the Hoyas struggle to keep up, the team and the fans in the arena will quickly smell blood in the water.
  5. The best part about the Big East this season has been how evenly matched the top six teams are. At this juncture in the season, there are plenty of teams still mathematically alive in the hunt for the regular season title and one of those is Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish were a trendy pick to compete for the title this season because of their returning experience and despite some rough patches earlier in the season, they find themselves right in the thick of the race with just a couple games left. Now, their chances at winning the regular season title are quite slim, but that doesn’t mean the team isn’t committed to winning out and doing their best to keep the pressure on the teams above them.
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Morning Five: 10.24.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 24th, 2012

  1. It’s now been about 10 days since the beginning of practices around the nation and you have to figure that coaches have started to get a sense as to what kind of team they’ll be able to put on the floor this season. But running against yourself only gets you so far by way of learning about your squad, so the NCAA allows coaches to set up so-called “secret scrimmages” between Division I schools so long as nobody other than the competitors are invited and nobody ever talks about them. CBSSports.com‘s Jeff Goodman has mined his sources to put together a list of non-games for the next week and there are a few of which we’d like to see some surreptitious 47%-style tape released afterward — a Xavier-West Virginia battle on Saturday; a Georgetown-North Carolina tilt as well as a Creighton-Iowa contest on Sunday; and, a Stanford-St. Mary’s game late next week. How about we just tip off the season this weekend instead — these are good games!
  2. One of the few teams in America who would probably be better off from a competitive perspective playing five-on-five in its own gym rather than schlepping around to find its match is Louisville. Seth Davis reports from his time spent observing the Cardinals, and after describing in detail why he thinks that Rick Pitino truly is having the most fun coaching that he’s had in years (perhaps decades), he believes that Louisville brings back enough heart, defensive scrap and offensive firepower to make a return trip to the Final Four in 2012-13. While it’s true that outside shooting is probably going to remain a problem area and the Cards are prone to injuries, we really can’t disagree with him. With a healthy Wayne Blackshear and the continued improvement of Chane Behanan, we feel that Pitino’s offense will be quite a bit more fluid than the train wreck they often put on the floor last season.
  3. If you had to pick one college basketball team that was the most influential — not necessarily the best, mind you — in the history of the game, who would it be? The 1966 Texas Western team that shocked all-white Kentucky and blew off the doors of the stereotype that black players were undisciplined and couldn’t play championship basketball? Perhaps the undefeated 1976 Indiana Hoosiers, the last team to run the table with an undefeated season and become the archetype for “perfect basketball” forever more? These teams and many others are considered in Alexander Wolff’s latest SI piece examining this very question. His choice: the 1964 UCLA Bruins, John Wooden’s first national championship team, a group that shocked the college basketball world in how it redefined how the very game was played (did you know that this unbeaten team wasn’t even ranked in the AP Top 20 to begin the season?). It’s an interesting read, and one frankly we find more compelling than the tired debates over which teams were “better,” an impossibly futile question to answer.
  4. If you’re a college basketball junkie who loves mid-major hoops, you may want to considering finding the NBC Sports Network on your cable or satellite package this season. The network will show more than 50 games this season, but the majority of those will involve teams from four non-power leagues — the Atlantic 10, the Mountain West, the CAA, and the Ivy League. It is also the only place to find realistic television coverage of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas (apparently something called AXS.tv will cover two quarterfinal games), which for our money is by far the best of the various preseason tournaments this year — VCU, Duke, Memphis, Louisville, Northern Iowa, Missouri, Stanford and Minnesota will all be there this year. The network will also show both semifinals and the championship game of the CAA Tournament next March.
  5. Finally, we’ll end with injury news. If you still have some college eligibility left and possess some semblance of a passing game and floor leadership at the point guard position, give Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard a phone call. His only legitimate point guard, sophomore Aaron Cosby, has sprained the PCL in his right knee and will be out of action for the next four to six weeks. Although the news could certainly be worse, entering the first month of the season and facing games against the likes of Washington, LSU and Wake Forest prior to the semester break isn’t exactly a recipe for winning without someone to run the offense.
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A Contrarian Viewpoint: Back Off Gillispie Until He Gives His Side of the Story

Posted by dnspewak on September 7th, 2012

Danny Spewak is a Big 12 microsite staffer and an RTC correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter @dspewak.

Billy Gillispie, the gruff, divisive dictator in charge of Texas Tech’s basketball program, suddenly finds himself as helpless and powerless as ever. Stuck in a hospital in Lubbock, current and former Red Raider players have turned on him publicly, telling CBS Sports he violated NCAA rules, punished them in practice and made their lives a living hell for an entire season. They’re saying nasty things — things that could all but end Gillispie’s coaching career, which already needed saving on one occasion after that messy divorce with Kentucky. They’re saying he forced a player with a stress fracture to practice despite needing serious medical attention, and they’re saying he routinely held practices for hours and hours at a time during the season, much longer than the 20 hours per week allotted by the NCAA. After Jeff Goodman’s investigative work blew the door off the situation, CBS colleague Gary Parrish then penned his own piece.

If the allegations against Gillispie are true — and there’s no reason to believe they aren’t — then he’s a man who didn’t learn from his downfall at Kentucky and probably shouldn’t be coaching college basketball anyway.

Goodman and Parrish cite several sources, one of which confirmed a tale of Kader Tapsoba running stairs with a stress fracture as he sobbed from the pain. We’re hearing about Bear Bryant kind of shenanigans, outdated tactics used by tyrants in the 1952, not 2012. Put it all together, and Parrish, quite matter-of-factly, says the following: “Gillispie must go.” ESPN’s Andy Katz and Jason King spoke to several unnamed current players, and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal managed to actually speak to Gillispie and get a no comment: “There will be an appropriate time to talk about that,” Gillispie told reporter Nick Kosmider. “Right now I’m trying to get better.”

Billy Gillispie Finds Himself in Trouble

Problem is, his superiors may not wait until his health recovers to make a decision on his employment. With the public now united against him, there’s almost no way Gillispie can overcome this sort of PR hit. It’s a shame we’ve come to this conclusion so early. It’s a shame we’re essentially ending his career before he even gets out of the hospital. Like Parrish alluded to, it’s hard to believe that all of these players would simply fabricate stories about Gillispie out of thin air, but that’s not the point here. The man at the center of this whole fiasco needs to have the opportunity to defend himself. It doesn’t matter how many sources CBS Sports cites or how many times it tries to text him. He’s in the freaking hospital. That’d be like Woodward and Bernstein taking information from Deep Throat and then texting Richard Nixon’s staffers, only to give up and still write the Watergate story for The Washington Post when they did not respond. Ridiculous, right? Billy Gillispie may not be Richard Nixon, and his alleged transgressions may not be a matter of national security, but the consequences are serious nonetheless.

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Morning Five: 06.13.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 13th, 2012

  1. Last night the NBA Finals between Miami and OKC began in Oklahoma City, and aside from the fact that Thunder fans have the look and feel of college fans (that tends to happen when you’re the only professional franchise in a traditional college sports state), we found the former collegiate talent on the floor just as compelling. Many NBA fans are not college basketball fans and vice versa, but we’d encourage any of our college-only readers to spend some time this week and next getting a look at how well former collegiate stars such as Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, James Harden, and even Nick Collison have acquitted themselves as pros. This piece we published yesterday takes a look back at some of the accomplishments of these and several other players during their amateur days, with the general sentiment that folks like us will especially this year’s version of June Madness.
  2. While on the subject of basketball in the great state of Oklahoma, there’s more coming that way. Conference USA has decided to move its 2013 conference tournament to Tulsa in light of Memphis’ decision to join the Big East beginning in the 2013-14 season. Although we certainly understand the incentive of the league to punish Memphis for its disloyalty, it feels a bit like cutting off the nose here to spite the face. The last time the C-USA Tournament was held in Tulsa in 2010, the attendance numbers were somewhat disappointing and the Golden Hurricane had a solid squad that year. Whether new head coach Danny Manning will be able to fire up the locals enough to make this decision a success next March is an open question.
  3. It’s never too early to start thinking about next season, and Jeff Goodman is the type of guy who has already played out 2013 in his head before most of us see it on the horizon. In this post he outlines the 55 best non-conference games that are already on the schedule for next season. The top game on his list is a rematch of the first half of the 2012 Final Four, but we’re actually more interested in a certain Champions Classic game that involves a couple of schools that do not play each other regularly. In case you’re wondering — and we know you are — Kentucky vs. Indiana is still nowhere to be found on this list.
  4. Providence appears to be on the way up the standings of the Big East with a top recruiting class coming in for Ed Cooley next season, featuring Ricardo Ledo in the backcourt. For that reason, Friar guard Gerard Coleman began looking elsewhere despite averaging 13/5 last year as a sophomore, and he has decided to resurface 3,000 miles across the country at Gonzaga. Mark Few is getting an athletic scorer who tailed off considerably last year as the losses piled up in Providence, but one who will no doubt benefit from a year watching the game from the bench to better learn about good shot selection (42.4% FG; 23.8% 3FG).
  5. The men’s basketball NCAA Tournament Selection Committee is one of the most scrutinized bodies in all of American sports. Each year the group of dignitaries is shuttered away in an Indianapolis hotel and expected to produce a perfectly balanced and justified bracket to satisfy millions of college basketball fans around the country. The task is a herculean one, fraught with time-sensitive pressure and an overwhelming fear of mistakes. Now that the BCS has decided to move to a four-team playoff in college football, the topic of a similarly situated selection committee is on the table. But, as ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich writes, there is no consensus among college presidents and other NCAA insiders as to how the four lucky teams should be selected. The one thing we can rest assured of is this: future Selection Committee members should just go ahead and change their addresses, because there is an enormous difference between being the first school left out of a 68-team field and a four-team one.
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Morning Five: 05.10.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 10th, 2012

  1. The biggest news to release on Wednesday was that the ACC has renegotiated its television rights deal with ESPN in light of the fact that it has added two additional members. The twin poaching of Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East last year will result in a 32.9% increased annual payout for each school — from an average of $12.9M to $17.1M — proving that the new reality of cable channels willing to pay exorbitant amounts for college sports isn’t drying up anytime soon. The total amount ESPN paid for the rights to ACC football and basketball through 2026-27 is $3.6 billion, ensuring that Dookie V. will remain in his catbird seat at Cameron Indoor Stadium for the rest of his life.
  2. Realignment has allowed the ACC and the Big 12 (reportedly) to re-negotiate their television deals in their favor this week, so it’s unsurprising that further positioning is already under way. Chip Brown at Orangebloods.com floated a scenario yesterday that suggests the ACC’s Florida State could find a better deal over in the Big 12 ($19M per year), a conference that might also allow the Seminoles to develop its own Longhorn-style network (worth another estimated $5M per year). Very little would surprise us at this point, and the dollars talk — for the better part of two decades, FSU has seemed a strange fit in the basketball-centric ACC, so a jump to the Big 12 with no invitation to the SEC forthcoming seems just as reasonable as anything else. Maybe they could go west as a package deal: According to Andy Katz’s report from the new Big East commissioner’s conference call on Wednesday, Louisville has informed the other schools in its league that they’re gone at the first decent offer (presumably from the Big 12 or ACC). We’re sure there will be no shortage of this chatter for the next, oh, four months.
  3. Open and notorious solicitation of a school wanting to join a new conference isn’t confined only to the power leagues, of course. Oakland University (located in metro Detroit, not northern California) is hoping for consideration to replace Butler in the Horizon League when the Fighting Brad Stevenses move on to the Atlantic 10 after next season. A decade ago local rival Detroit, not wanting to share geographic space within the same league, managed to keep Oakland out — whether they’ll be able to turn down a program out of the Summit League that has made the NCAA Tournament three times in the last eight years remains to be seen. But it appears to be a natural fit if Detroit can find a way to play nice.
  4. With the coaching carousel winding down (only three jobs open currently), Jeff Goodman rates some of the notable coaching hires of this offseason. Although he doesn’t give actual grades to the decisions thus far, it’s interesting that he writes that the Larry Brown hire at SMU is the one where he’s “Not sold… yet.” In reading through this list, though, perhaps the most striking thing in a year where there have been 43 coaching openings so far, is that brand-name jobs have quite simply not been available. Which was the best opening — Virginia Tech? Kansas State? It has definitely not been a good year for aspiring young coaches to trade up — at least, not yet.
  5. It wasn’t a 1500-word missive to make his case for ‘nontraditional’ scheduling for a ‘nontraditional’ yet tradition-rich program, but Indiana’s Tom Crean on Wednesday gave his side of the story in the Great Scheduling Debate involving Kentucky and IU’s terminated home-and-home series. Crean basically argues that Indiana is already playing several neutral site games with the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis and whichever exempt tournament that it is invited to in a given season (e.g., next year’s Legends Classic), so it doesn’t make sense for the Hoosiers to play yet another neutral site game with Kentucky. He also reminds everyone that it was the Wildcats, not the Hoosiers (both under different head coaches at the time, who moved the game back on campus in the mid-2000s after a 15-year run at neutral venues. As we argued on Tuesday, though, the notion that teams should play as many as a quarter of its pre-NCAA schedule in neutral venues seems a bit ridiculous to us, but we’re mostly bitter about the loss of one of the best regional rivalries in college basketball, so don’t mind us.
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Big East Evening Five: 03.28.12 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on March 28th, 2012

  1. We missed yesterday, so you are getting a double dose of Big East news this morning because we feel bad. We start with the scouting report on Louisville, based on the opinions of opposing coaches, and put together by the good folks at CBS Sports. The information isn’t exactly new if you have been following the Cardinals all season. Take care of the ball against their press, try to slow down their transition attack, keep Peyton Siva out of the lane, and you will have an excellent chance of winning the game. The good news for Kentucky is, that their defense is so good, Louisville should only be able to score in transition and off of turnovers. So assuming that Marquis Teague can handle the press, and assuming Kentucky’s athletes get back and set up defensively, they should be able to handle the Cardinals with relative ease.
  2. You didn’t think we were going to make it a whole week without a borderline insane story about the fervent passion of Louisville and Kentucky fans did you? In fact, we didn’t even make it through half the week before news broke that two fans got into a fight while awaiting treatment at a dialysis center. You really can’t make this stuff up. If you want to look on the bright side, this is part of what makes college sports so awesome. It may be a wild generalization, but fans of professional sports teams don’t care half as much about their teams as these folks in the Bluegrass State. And the passion for Alabama and Auburn football is on an entirely different level. I am setting the over/under on the breaking of more crazy stories like this at two, which won’t count fallout from the outcome of the game, which is sure to bring out only the best in both team’s fan bases.
  3. In predictable and also understandable fashion, the media has jumped all over the “hated rivals” storyline. Luckily, there is only one columnist angry enough to really put perspective on the whole rivalry, and that is noted flame-fanner Gregg Doyel. His column isn’t long, and it doesn’t make any profound points, but it does succinctly sum up just how insane this game will be.
  4.  The list of Big East players headed to the NBA Draft continued to swell yesterday as Georgetown forward Hollis Thompson announced he would forgo his senior season and hire an agent. Thompson tested the waters last season before withdrawing his name and from the looks of John Thompson III‘s comments, this decision is hardly surprising. The real question is whether Thompson will end up drafted. I understand the move, because his stock isn’t likely to rise dramatically even if he has an excellent senior season, but right now he looks like he will need to get lucky to stick with a team. He does have the skill set and size to be an NBA small forward, but he hardly dominated collegiate competition, so how can he be expected to make an impact at the next level?
  5. Our pal Jeff Goodman over at CBS Sports has released his initial transfer list and there are some interesting names worth noting. First, the list is what alerted me to the news that Notre Dame guard Alex Dragicevich is transferring out of South Bend, a blow to Mike Brey’s program which was going to rely more heavily on his outside shooting next season. The list also reminded me of one of the more interesting Final Four storylines and that is that Louisville forward Jared Swopshire already announced he won’t be back next season, but for now he is playing meaningful minutes on a team eyeing a national championship. Thanks to playing time and the scholarship numbers game, Swopshire will be looking for a new home. But for now, we are sure he is relishing the position he is in.
  6. Speaking of Goodman and transfers out of the Big East, soon after the list was published, Goodman tweeted that Providence sophomore Gerard Coleman was a likely candidate to transfer out of the program. Assuming Vincent Council stays in school and both highly touted freshman guards arrive on campus in time for next season, the Friars’ backcourt was looking awfully crowded. But if Coleman does indeed transfer, coach Ed Cooley loses quite the luxury. Coleman’s play tailed off in the second half of the season, but he is a quality scorer and is physical enough to give Cooley a legitimately dangerous three-guard lineup. On the other hand, his departure will open up more playing time for Ricardo Ledo and Kris Dunn, which can really only be a good thing, assuming the duo is as good as advertised.
  7. As an unabashedly biased Villanova fan, I have spent a good deal of words explaining that Wildcats’ guard Maalik Wayns would be silly to enter the NBA Draft this season, so it’s only logical that Wayns made it final recently, announcing plans to hire an agent and forgo his senior season on the Main Line. Look, players enter the draft for a litany of reasons, so saying he made a stupid decision without knowing his true reasons is rather presumptuous of me. That said, Wayns is looking like a second-round pick at best, and a great senior season probably could have given his draft stock a much-needed shot in the arm. Despite his penchant for taking terrible shots and making questionable decisions, Wayns would have been a huge help to ‘Nova’s rebuilding efforts next season, but now they will need to look elsewhere for that leadership.
  8. Not everyone in West Virginia is spitting on the Big East on their way out the door. Charleston Gazette columnist Mitch Vingle penned a letter to Big East basketball that reads like a breakup letter from a guy who is already regretting the split. He uses some personal reflections mixed with classic personalities from the conference to show plenty of awesome things about the conference and its rich basketball history. The sad thing is, the Big East will miss West Virginia too. Yes, of course they will miss their football tradition and revenue, but the Mountaineers are a quality basketball program, and no amount of SMU and Central Florida will change that. The Mountaineers made their choice, choosing money over tradition, and now so many of us will be left to cling to memories that may never happen again.
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